Like his contemporary, Whistler, John Singer Sargent enjoyed painting glamorous women. This is the first exhibition to celebrate that fact, with over 50 paintings and drawings. The exhibition (12 November-13 December) has been organised on the occasion of the recent revelations about “Madame X”, the woman whose 1884 portrait by Sargent is in the Metropolitan’s collection; she was none other than Virginie Amélie Gautreau. The portrait was considered shocking for a reason that seems inoffensive today: one strap of her dress had slipped over her shoulder. Despite—or perhaps because of—the uproar caused by that portrait, Sargent rose to international fame as a portraitist of the wealthy in the 1890s. Though “Madame X” is not in this show, there are pencil studies for the portrait, on loan from the Metropolitan and from a private collection. The exhibition includes a number of other loans from museums such as the National Gallery of Art, Washington and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. There are portraits of Sargent’s female family members and also of the writer Judith Gautier. Other, more exotic, women include a Spanish gypsy dancer, and a “Javanese dancer at her toilette” of 1889 (below).
Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Sargent’s women. Adelson Galleries'